Importance of women's housework chores

A woman hanging cloths.

“I hate housework!!!! And what’s more, I don’t do a very good job of it. It is a thankless, dull task.”

That was the responds two of fifty thousand housewives recently polled in an international survey.

Yet, on the other hand, many fit the description of Julie, who is up every morning at dawn to begin a daily ritual of housecleaning.

Everything in her house gleams.

All her friends envy the way it looks.

Sometimes, Julie feels she should have more outside interests, but she sighs:

“I’m a homemaker first, and we must have a clean house.”

She strives for perfection.

Quite a difference of attitude from those who ‘hated’ housework!

Does either viewpoint prevail in your home?

Is either correct?

Right attitude towards women's housework

Certainly your attitude, or that of your mate, toward housework can have a direct bearing on your own comfort and happiness.

But what is a realistic view of that which some consider a “curse” and others say is one of the “highest of feminine virtues”?

A husband, just returning from a weekend business trip, could hardly believe his eyes.

The kitchen looked like a disaster area—the stove covered with scorched pots and pans, the sink bulging with dirty dishes, the floor covered with grime and food waste.

Beyond the kitchen, he saw the living room cluttered with newspapers, bottles and toys.

His two little children were wrestling on top of a large pile of soiled laundry.

And in the midst of all this chaos was his wife, calmly sitting in an easy chair, with her feet up on a table, leisurely reading.

She said:

“I thought the best way to let you see what on earth I do all day was not to do it.”

Yes, housework is important!

Who of us does not enjoy coming into a clean, calm, orderly home?

On the other hand, dirt and grime can irritate.

They repel.

But really, isn’t it more important to be a companion to your husband and to keep up with what’s going on in the world than to spend your life as a ‘lowly house cleaner’?

After all, to expect someone with brains to spend all her time doing housework is just not fair, others may think.

You may feel the same way.

However, to prevent housework from becoming a boring task that consumes all your time requires skill and initiative—no small requirement in this age of mental laziness.

As one authority states:

The woman who feels the importance of keeping her family comfortable, with a pleasant well-kept house and good food, is apt to snap right into her tasks and do them quickly and efficiently. And thereby finds more time to be a companion to her husband and children.”

Some homemakers are able to think about other things while doing certain parts of their housework that may require little concentration.

For instance, some mentally plan future meals, organize their day’s schedule or reflect on family vacation plans.

Why do some women consider housework an important, dignified service?

One homemaker with 21 years of experience explains:

It’s personal, l am doing something personal to benefit someone else. We live in a world in which so many things are impersonal. You don’t see the immediate good of your work. However, housework affects another in a very personal way, and the satisfaction is immediate.”

Many diligent housewives agree.

They view their housework as a “labor of love” for their family.

Also, there is contentment in seeing a job well done.

Another mother candidly states:

“I don’t know anyone who finds housework absorbing, fulfilling, challenging. However, like death and taxes, there it is,”.

Yet she admitted:

“But, you know, when the copper gleams and the tables glow and the house smells fresh and the fire in the fireplace reflects the polished floor, I do get a smug feeling of accomplishment.”

Coupled with the “feeling of accomplishment” is a clear conscience, not always having to apologize for the condition of the home, and a sense of self-respect.

All of these are fine reasons why housework should not be viewed as a “thankless, dull task.”

But what about persons like Julie, who must have a perfectly immaculate home?

Who said people have to eat off the floor?

Two American professors complain about some advertisers:

Relentlessly over the years, we have been threatened that if we don’t have a ‘whiter’ wash, squeaky-clean hair, a spotless floor, a glistening car, we are not keeping up to the proper standards.”

These experts assert that “cleanliness as a status symbol” has caused the huge demand for products that pollute our environment and has driven many women “to almost fanatical lengths to keep their families, home and themselves clean.”

Additionally, some women have been raised to view housework as one of the highest feminine virtues.

These are obsessed with keeping an immaculate home—regardless of how much time it takes.

The book How to Run Your House states:

There is no better way to make your family and yourself miserable than to have the house so spotless that everyone is afraid to sit down on a chair or touch a table or walk across the room with his shoes on.”

Naturally this comment should not be taken as a reason to excuse a housewife from being diligent to keep her home clean, but never forget why you do it—to make your family comfortable.

So do not steal their peacefulness by being overly fussy.

First, set your priorities.

Which should come first—the house or those who live in it?

Are your own standards so high that others feel uncomfortable?

One homemaker concluded:

Provide the family with simple, nourishing food; clean beds; clean clothes; and a house clean enough for comfort. Everything else is optional.”

You will never get all the housework done.

There is always something to do.

So decide how much time you will devote to it.

Then diligently do as much as your own pace allows.

Reportedly, some women spend on the average as little as an hour a day straightening up their homes.

Others may spend longer, depending on their family’s living habits, their own abilities, strength and circumstances.

Recognize your own limitations.

As one experienced homemaker said:

As with money, so with our time and strength, we can’t overspend. If we try, we end up paying for it sooner or later. We can only do so much.”

However, some other homemakers struggle against another real weakness in the human makeup—laziness.

This can color one’s attitude about housework.

The excuses of a lazy person are well known.

Help for working women

One wife explains:

Financially I need to work, but I would love to stay home with my child, It is very hard trying to be wife, mother and homemaker after working eight hours.”
She echoes the plight of an increasing number of women.

However, when the wife works outside the home a number of hours similar to the workday of the husband, there is a real need for understanding and help from the rest of the family.

One young housewife with a full-time job boasts:

I am very fortunate in having a husband who believes that one adult should not have to clean up after another adult, and that housework should be shared.” 

The children also can, and should, help.

Especially so if theirs is a single parent who must work full time.

If others in the family are not over demanding, but instead join in doing the work together, it can almost be fun, as one homemaker wrote:

Every day my husband scours the bathtub after his shower. After dinner, he cleans and scrapes the dishes, while I wash the stove, counters and put away leftovers. . . . Three nights ago my husband ironed while I prepared the dinner. We were able to talk about our day while we completed these tasks. . . . We often share cooking and make it fun—drink a glass of wine and talk. If I had to do housework alone, I’m sure I would consider it drudgery.
An experienced wife concludes:

It’s balance that’s needed, your attitude can’t be too meticulous, or it’s uncomfortable. Or if you’re too sloppy there’s irritation on both sides. You’re irritated because of guilt for not doing it, and then the family is irritated because the dirt must be endured another day.”

Proper balance creates a clean-as-I-can-make-it home, but with a relaxed atmosphere prevailing inside.

So keep housework in its proper place—not first, and not last either.